Unforeseen fallout from Oklahoma law changes - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Unforeseen fallout from Oklahoma law changes

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The Marshall County Jail in Madill. (KTEN) The Marshall County Jail in Madill. (KTEN)

After State Question 780 was passed by Oklahoma voters in 2016, it made possession of large quantities of drugs like methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine misdemeanors instead of felonies.

It also doubled the amount of a felony theft from $500 to $1,000.

State Question 780 was passed in an attempt to deal with Oklahoma's high incarceration rate, but now local law enforcement officials are dealing with the consequences.

"We've seen an increase in drug crimes as a whole, and we've also seen an increase in violence," said Johnston County Undersheriff Gary Dodd.

Dodd made a Facebook post outlining some of the problems, problems that aren't limited to Johnston County.

"I've seen a lot more drugs since its passage than I ever did in the past," Marshall County Sheriff Danny Cryer said. "Our drug trafficking crimes are extremely high, our distribution crimes are higher."

And more misdemeanors means more people are locked up in a county jail, which can turn into an expensive problem.

"I have to feed, clothe, provide medical care for all those inmates on a daily basis, and that's a cost that's not cheap," Cryer said. "Our jail is run primarily off a sales tax."

It is a problem that is likely to linger.

"Since this was a vote of the people, there's no chance of much change without another vote of the people," Oklahoma Rep. Tammy Townley (R-District 48) said in written statement.

Townley added that she believes there will be some relief coming for law enforcement, but could not be more specific.

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